To assist St Andrew’s Staff with current world events and dealing with the very likely possibility of remote or distance learning, I was asked to present information for teachers about how to explore, set and create learning activities that their students can access from home. I became a Seesaw Ambassador in 2017, and am currently in the process of updating my Seesaw Ambassador Training. I have been given great resources that I am sharing with you now.
Please note, our school setting has been using Seesaw for the last 4-5 years, this is a platform that is already familiar to our teachers, students and families, (the whole school community), which is why we have chosen to continue utilising this platform. We have mainly used Seesaw as a means to showcase student learning, like a digital portfolio.
I am aware that other online resources are being used to suit the needs of our teachers and students such as Edmodo, Showbie, Google Classrooms etc. Use what works for you.
Here is my PD Powerpoint presentation in a PDF format from the workshop today. You can access all of the video links to assist you with exploring, assigning and creating your own Seesaw activities: Seesaw Activities PD 25:03:20
PETAA: Primary English Teaching Association Australia
Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington
Pembroke Junior School 9:30am-12:30pm Thursday 12 March, 2020
Responding playfully to stories.
I am in my 16th year of teaching now, and with my teaching background and especially after becoming a mother, I know how intrinsic play and playful learning is within children. All children learn through play. Multilingual Story Boxes was the name of the PD I attended on Thursday, I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation, however, this was not the first time I had come across this concept, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
About 12-13 years ago, my previous primary school suggested “Play Boxes”, which essentially are the same thing as these Multilingual Story Boxes. A box full of books, props, trinkets, toys, costumes, etc. around themes of texts to benefit all learners at whatever stage of development. The teachers loved them, the children loved them and each staff member would add their resources to the boxes after use and share it around. A great concept with fantastic resources, ready for the staff and students to borrow and use.
I was glad to be reminded of this concept at this PD. In my new role as the EALD teacher at St Andrew’s, I often have classroom teachers asking me for resources to support their EAL students. Whilst I have happily shared printed and digital resources, readings and supported students in and out of classes, there just isn’t enough time in my timetable to give these students and teachers enough support! Here is what I took away from this PD:
“What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”
If we are providing essential, language rich, playful learning tasks for EAL students this will benefit ALL students in the class. Differentiation is key. Do what you would usually do, and cater for diversity.
As a side note, I am aware that play-based learning is predominantly an early years and junior primary school focus, however, it can and should also be done in the middle and upper primary classes – just pitched at a different level. I taught Year 6 students for three years and was creative in my approach to play based learning, it just looked a little different with older students.
I loved the suggested texts recommended below; some I have used before and others were new to me. It is important for children to see themselves represented in stories and be able to connect with characters. Mirror Books was a term used in the PD, and our teacher librarian (Tracey Billington) had just spoken to staff about books being windows or mirrors for students. A “window” to see into a character’s life and empathise with them, or a “mirror” to see themselves reflected in the book as a character they can relate to.
Recommended Books: Ziba Came on a Boat, Four Feet, Two Sandals & Stepping Stones (Bilingual), My Two Blankets & Handra’s Surprise.
This video clip is of a Reception class that read and explored Handra’s Surprise and recreated the story. It’s wonderful!
Storytelling Resources (Pennington, 2017):
Personal to the teller in the form of memories or events, leading to the development of family stories.
Artefacts to which stories become attached over time.
Printed and online texts, TV programs and movies.
National and cultural myths and histories passed down over generations.
Stories which accompany religious practices and beliefs.
As educators we know the value of storytelling, not just reading books to each other. Storytelling comes from the home, from communities, cultures, families and friends. It is a way of life, connecting with others and making sense of our world. Children should be given the opportunity to tell and share their stories.
The clip below called “Helicopter Stories, Letting Imagination Fly”, was shared at the PD. I think this method of storytelling is fantastic. I majored in Drama at university and have always had a passion for the Arts and expression through performance. This is exactly what students should be doing to explore, create and tell stories. I would also highly recommend using puppets/ puppetry to explore this method.
This is an example of children telling stories in their language. The method involves the teacher recording the student’s story on one page only, then reading their story aloud in a group, allowing the author of the story to act out their story with friends. Love it!
Attached is the PDF of the PowerPoint from the presentation by Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington. There were many useful pages with resources, references to research and examples of the Multilingual Story Boxes texts and props. Multilingual Storyboxes Adelaide
Where to from here?
My goal after this PD is to create a sample Multilingual Story Box for my school. With the assistance of our teacher librarian, I hope to source a box and add resources to it, then model the process with a selection of Reception and Year 1 classes.
I’d like to share this learning in one of our staff meetings to reinforce the message that “What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”. All staff have the skills to cater for our EALD students, they just crave some resources and support, which is completely understandable.
Next year I have been given the role of the EALD Teacher at St Andrew’s. I attended the EAL Hub Group Meeting at Pembroke Junior School today to gather some resources and learn about how the EALD program works within the Pembroke school context. Here are my notes from my professional development today.
Thanks Nikki for sharing your practice and hosting this hub meeting today. I look forward to attending the next hub meeting.
Initial Assessments for EAL Student:
Good resource: Oral Test: Book “You Choose” by Nick Sharrat.
Conversation about the images. Record conversation on iPad, receptive and expressive language assessment.
Written Test: Starting at Year 1 do oral and written assessment. Yr 2-7
Documentation: Areas of Success, Areas of Concern. Assessment sheet after conversation.
Use the Levelling Language and Literacy Levels Folder. PDF links below.
Traditional Grammar vs Functional Grammar. Look into this and make a decision within our school.
2 EAL sessions per group, per week. Students removed from class during literacy or LOTE lessons.
Building Teacher Capacities, supporting within the classroom instead of student withdrawal. Classroom teachers have more opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the children they have in their classrooms, supporting these teachers, literacy underpins all learning areas, showing them by leading sessions within their classes, modelling how to support their EAL students.
ELC & Reception- Oral activities, Games, Sorts, Songs and Stories
Speech Pathologists are a great resource
Apps: Toca Boca- Pronouns, Sago Mini- Pronouns and Prepositions,
Australian Apps: Play School, ABC Kids, Reading Doctor Apps, Hearbuilder Listening and Following Directions, Smashing Grammar, Padlet, Borrow Box (free just use a public library app to listen to audio books), EPIC (Free online audio books on app and website).Listening to audio books and hearing English at home makes a difference.
Schools are People Places: Building Trust is Essential
By Steve Francis
Today we had a staff professional development day about the importance of building trust in our work place and finding a good work life satisfaction and balance. I really enjoyed today’s PD and found it quite useful to have time to reflect on our current skills and what we could do to improve our individual situations. We also spent time unpacking effective teams and how to work efficiently and collaboratively.
Here are some of my notes and take aways from today’s session:
People Skills vs Technical Skills. In our profession you require people skills to be successful.
How do we build trust relationships?
Having credibility in other people’s eyes. 4 Cores: Character & Competence
Integrity (Do you do what you say you’re going to do?),
Intention (What they think our intentions are, assumptions about our intentions),
Results (Do we deliver, do we follow through with what we plan to do?)
Building Trust Relationships, 13 Behaviours
Talking straight- balance between sugar coating and addressing issues
Create transparency- no hidden agendas
Confront reality- address issues
Rights wrongs- when we make mistakes, own it, apologise
Listen first-be a good listener and understand what other people’s concerns are
Get better- strive to be our best and improve
Keep commitments- delivering on the promises we make, following through
Show loyalty- talk about people as if they were present
Deliver results- do the things that matter, that make a difference
Extend trust- trust others, we are a team
Parents see moments of truth and base their trust about ourselves and school in these moments of truth. These can be simple things like the way your classroom looks, the atmosphere in the yard before school, how a teacher greets people in the morning, what their children say about their day at pick up time etc.
Why work as a team? Lightens workload, shared experience, develops relationships, working to our strengths, feels good to be part of a team and feel trusted and to trust others.
Efficient, Effective and Consistency of good practise. Gives people a sense of connection and belonging.
Challenge others and ask them if they are living above the line of life. Below the line, we see blame, excuses and denial. Above the line we own our decisions, are accountable for our own actions and take responsibility in the role we play in our lives. I found this quite useful, and thought about applying this concept to student thinking. I have discussed the “Blame Game” with my students before, this could link in nicely.
How to respond to change: 3 choices
head in the sand
complain and deny
Stages of Change/ Concern
Information: What is the change, what do I need to know?
Personal impact: how will this impact me and my workload?
How to implement this change: what will we need to do to get this going?
Impact concerns: What impact have happened since the changes have occurred?
Collaboration: How do we work together to manage the change?
Refinement: Redo something that we didn’t do before, tweak and refine things.
You get to choose your attitude!
Attitudes are contagious. Is your attitude worth catching?
I loved this. It’s all a state of mind and how we deal in any given situation. I find that when I get into a negative headspace, feel pressured or stressed, my class picks up on my mood and we end up having a more challenging day. I want to bring this to my students’ attention. All of our attitudes are contagious, act with kindness, be treated kindly, act with anger, receive anger etc. Something to think about.
7 Steps to Successful Change
What would I need to accomplish today to feel good about the day?What is the most important thing for me to do now?
Email warning: Email Survival Rules
4 D’s: Delete, Delegate, Do it Now Or Decline. Deal with it, Decide and move on.
7 Tips to Increase Work Life Satisfaction
Monitor your self talk
Stop Feeling guilty about what you haven’t done
Stick to your golden rules (Own family rules that suit needs of all, create with partners)
Use your time well
Keep perspective: in a year from now, will this matter?
Look after yourself: self care routines
Avoid DHS (Deferred Happiness Syndrome)
Overall, I had a great day. I had time to reflect on my personal work life balance and satisfaction and identify the areas I need to be more mindful of. In particular, I need to think about self care, exercising and having some me time. All very well and good however, I find excuses or busy myself, especially when I’m working/ teaching full time, have a 2 year old and two teenagers at home, am planning our wedding (happening this Saturday!) and running a household cooking, cleaning, etc. Luckily I have a great partner at home and we support one another. Both of us being teachers, we understand the pressure, workload and needs required to be successful and manage.
The point from today is, we are all busy and we need to prioritise what’s important, address what needs to be done first and don’t sweat the small stuff. Make time for the important things and use systems to be efficient with our time. Teaching is a demanding and highly rewarding profession. I get great work satisfaction as this is my passion, however it can also be draining and mentally challenging. Finding a healthy balance is key.
Here’s to a positive start to Term 4, starting refreshed after a holiday, excited about our wedding this weekend and looking forward to a strong and rewarding finish to a wonderful year back with my Year 3’s.
Professional Development Monday 16th September 2019
My team and I attended this professional development today with the intention to learn, develop and build positive mindsets in our students and in our school community. Here are a few of my notes from today and the key messages I am taking back with me.
Healthy Relationships: Essential Goodness, every person is born with goodness, try to see this and harness it in every child. No one is going to learn from being constantly criticised. We build connections, see the child for who they are and their essential goodness, then build from there. Children won’t learn from people they don’t like. Developing good, trusting and healthy relationships is key.
Emotions are contagious. Be mindful of the emotions you bring to the room. Talk about this with your students, be aware of the moods we bring to the classroom.
Compassion: In moments of sadness, you are not alone. Building communities that want to care for each other. Compassion is crucial for the thread of society. Compassion starts with Self-Compassion. Self care and self forgiveness. Compassion doesn’t come naturally to everybody and this can be learnt.
What are the things that you do for yourself that make you feel good?
Empathy: It isn’t all about you! How are other people feeling? Can we care about other’s feelings and put ourselves in their shoes? We teach this by being empathetic beings ourselves, model this for our students.
App suggestion for meditation, gratification practise and set an intention for living: Buddhify: https://buddhify.com/
Taming the Inner Critic: What does our inner critic say? Is this true? How can we challenge that inner critic? Write down 5 nice things you can say about yourself. Inner Critic vs Inner Hero get into the healthy habit, don’t believe every thought that comes into your head. Reflect on your inner critic comments. Are those thoughts true, are they helpful, would you say it or think it about someone else?
Using EQ and Disagreeing Gracefully: It is hard to disagree with others, and usually when we disagree we have big emotions, so our thinking is low.
The Fixed Position: Letting go of the need to be right. Meeting people half way.
Respectful disagreements framework.
Win-win:The art of compromise.
Optimism: Rational Optimism. Try to find something good and rational. We are born with a negative bias. Brains were designed to look out for problems or dangers, the fight, flight or freeze mode. These are good indicators of how we are feeling. If you don’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Trust your gut instincts. Tune into your own feelings, are they rational or irrational feelings?
Top 3 things to be happier and more resilient:
1. Gratitude Practice
2. Identify 3 things that went well in your day/ life (This improves levels of optimism)
3. Swapping the phrase “Have to” to “Get to”. “Do we have to do this?” to “Do we get to do this?” I have to go to school today, I have to clean my room, I have to eat my dinner, I have to do my homework, I have to hang out the washing etc These are negative mindsets about our day and the jobs we need to do. But if we changed the dialogue to “I get to” then it becomes “I get to clean my room, because I have so many toys to play with, I get to eat dinner, some children don’t have food to eat, I get to do my homework because I’m lucky to receive an education, I get to hang out the washing because I have clean clothes to wear” Etc.
Being productive and capable in hardship. Children need to feel capable, because it’s the opposite of feeling insecure, less confident and hopeless. Is there anything you can do to turn this around? What actions could you take to make things right again? Moving past the victim mentality. Teaching children to think: I am hopeful, powerful and capable.
Problem Solving and Decision Making through Agency and Self-Efficacy:
Strengths. Self-Efficacy and Poise. How to weigh things up. Every time we tell our children what to do or solve their problems for them we do not allow them to wire up their thinking to solve problems for themselves. What are you going to do to solve your problem? Give them ownership, don’t jump in to solve their problem. We won’t be there to solve their problems in all situations, we need to let them feel disappointment, be upset, experience pain, so we can learn how to sit in those feelings and be okay, and then work out how we could solve or work on the problem for next time. To become a good decision maker as an adult you need to have experiences, make mistakes when they are little to learn from them.
Poise: If you are angry, upset, overwhelmed etc the BEST thing you can do is to not do or say anything at all! Wait until you are calm and can think clearly.
Group Meetings, Family Meetings, the importance of getting your group together regularly to meet and discuss how things are going. Structured and safe opportunity to catch up and discuss how your group is functioning. All groups/ families have problems, normalising this and giving everyone the opportunity to enter a discussion to address these problems. Once a week is ideal. Give children the opportunity to share their opinions and suggest ways to solve their own problems. Student voice, we all function at our best when we have a voice. The goal is to solve the problems together, we don’t solve their problems for them. Student ownership.
Challenging Feelings: Emotional regulation, in order to get good at handling your feelings you have to know yourself well and you have to be compassionate towards others. Acknowledge the feelings, name them. What is it you’re feeling? Accept that feeling. Do not resist that feeling. Key lessons to help us manage and deal with our challenging feelings: Gratitude Practice, Movement, Laughter, Music, Acts of Kindness, Watch what you watch (video games, social media, television programmes and movies that desensitise us to violence, negativity, it will leave negativity within you and decrease your empathy), Mindfulness, breathing & presence.
What can we do to help you with your wellbeing? Always ask the students what they want/ need to feel okay.
Meaning and purpose in everyday things and life. Help children to tune in to who they are, what is your purpose?
Fun for the sake of fun. Flow, knowing how to enjoy your life and lose yourself in the moment.
Choose who you spend time with, sleep, fire to wire.
Turning on your happy hormones:
Dopamine. Set small achievable goals. When we set a goal we give ourselves a sense of achievement, a reward.
Endorphins: Movement, exercise.
Oxytocin: Trust and receive trust, improve your social bonds.
Serotonin: The “one up” feeling. Have an awareness of this, self-confidence and self-esteem is impacted by this. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling we are “better” than others.
Here are a couple of videos from today I thought were worth sharing with students about their minds and acts of kindness.
Sentis: Neuroplasticity Clip: Our brains change based on our choices of behaviour and what we feed it.
Random Acts of Kindness: Colour Your World With Kindness
Smiles are contagious. Activity 1 minute smile with a partner, try not to smile. I will be doing this with my class. I found it so challenging not to smile when someone was smiling at me. Smiling is contagious and so are our moods. Come to school with a positive mindset.
It has been a while since my last blog post, I’ve been rather busy adapting to full time work after returning from maternity leave this year. I feel I’m managing quite well but my blog has been sadly neglected. Until now!
Recently I stumbled across this link to Julie Smith’s Blog called The Techie Teacher:
I have always wanted to do this with my students and thought Term 3 was the time to start this process. I have had staff at my school ask me about sharing how my class did it, so this blog is dedicated to my coworkers at St Andrew’s School.
Firstly, I decided what my intention for learning would be for this task. I have been focusing on developing greater fluency, expression and pronunciation when my students read aloud. With this in mind, I decided to create audio books for our school library. I told my students they needed to choose a picture book, read it for a week and practise their reading, keeping their fluency, expression and clear pronunciation in mind. We would be recording their voices, reading their chosen books and sharing them in the school library. Their books needed to be suitable for young children (ELC to Year 2), however older children may also enjoy listening to them.
After reading their books at home all week, they were ready to record! We used iPads and an app called Book Creator, which is a way of creating digital books. If you’ve never used it, I would highly recommend giving it a try.
Students took photos of each page of their picture book and then recorded their voices on each page. We then shared our digital books from Book Creator to Seesaw. Our school uses Seesaw as a tool for communication with parents and to document student learning in a digital format. If you haven’t used Seesaw before and would like to learn more about it, please visit my previous blog post about it. I presented at EdTech SA a few years ago about using Seesaw as digital portfolios. Here is the link:
We exported the book as a video to Seesaw, which meant it would automatically play for our viewers. All we needed to do from here was share the QR Code, which Seesaw generates for you.
I screen shot their QR codes, printed them to a suitable size for our display and the children stuck them on top of the photos I’d taken of them, holding a mini whiteboard as shown here:
Once this was done the children cut out their pictures, glued on their QR codes and we laminated them and attached a large black binder clip to the feet to help them stand up. I also asked my students to write a brief summary of their book and a 5 star rating, we used Comic Life to get the speech bubble template.
Here is what our library display looks like:
I also created a step by step instruction guide for students to help them learn how to view our stories using the iPads. You can find the attachment of that document here and download it and adapt it to your task. It’s as simple as opening the camera on the iPad, holding it up to the QR code and then clicking the link that pops up to take you to the story.
I hope you can see the value of this task and adapt it to suit one of your learning intentions within your classroom. The possibilities are endless! I was speaking to our school Italian teacher, she could record students speaking Italian and share their dialogue with students and parents, create a translator or a set of phrases to assist with Italian pronunciation. Then I was talking with a passionate science teacher and suggested he use it for recording the methods of experiments, videos of the experiments, documenting the scientific process along the way. What about Music lessons, Art, Dance, PE? So many possibilities.
ACARA Links: English Content Descriptors:
Use software including word processing programs with growing speed and efficiency to construct and edit texts featuring visual, print and audio elements (ACELY1685 – Scootle )
Use interaction skills, including active listening behaviours and communicate in a clear, coherent manner using a variety of everyday and learned vocabulary and appropriate tone, pace, pitch and volume (ACELY1792 – Scootle )
I often remind my students that I do not have all of the answers. Teachers are not the keepers of knowledge and we are also learners. A good teacher learns with their students, demonstrating the traits of a good learner. I thought I should blog about my recent learning journey and what I feel are traits of a good learner.
As I’ve been on school holidays, I’ve had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the learner in an area of personal interest. My wonderful partner (Andy Peartree) gave me the BEST Christmas present, it was a full day Watercolour Art Class, taught by Karan Hudson (http://cmla.org.au/pdf/Karan_Hudson_Artist_Bio.pdf )
Before the class I was quite nervous, especially as I hadn’t been to an art class in many years and I wondered if I still possessed any relevant skills. This helped me to remember that my students this year may be feeling rather nervous on their first day of school or at the start of a new lesson. I will keep this in mind and try my best to put their minds at ease.
Karan Hudson is also a primary school art teacher and she believes in play based learning and inquiry methods, something I also believe and practice in my own teaching. Karan began by sharing her knowledge and experiences, directed us to gather the tools we required, and then allowed us time to set up, explore and play with the watercolour paints, various papers and brushes. I loved having the time to play and explore.
At first I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to paint, but I didn’t feel pressured, I was given some guidance along the way and then it all just happened. Before I knew it the day was over, I felt completely relaxed and in the pocket of learning. I was applying new techniques, seeking guidance from my teacher when I was unsure, experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them to enhance my next attempt. It was such a wonderful day and I left with a sense of real achievement, reconnected to my love of painting and creating.
Here are some of my paintings from the day:
My pear, for my partner Mr Peartree. I wet the page without paint, outlining the pear first so that the colour wouldn’t run, then I added the colour gradually, blending all of the different tones. The Poppy painting was created using leaves to print with. I quite liked the effect.
Landscape experiments, I loved how the paint moved and spread on the paper, it created wonderful natural lines.
The rock salt creates an effect on the paint, drawing the colour to the salt creating darker, grainy patches. I used the splatter effect by flicking the bristles of a brush on the page for the crashing of waves on the rocks. I also loved learning how to use glad wrap to create the lines on the rocks.
Glad wrap method.
A photo of the class at work. Everybody was so engaged and busy creating. I loved the opportunity to stop and wander around to look at what everybody else was doing. Not one painting was the same, we were all using the techniques taught but we were all creating our own uniques pieces. I often saw what someone else was doing and became inspired to try what they had done. I have used this technique in class with my students, it is a great strategy, especially for those who are a bit lost, need inspiration or if I want to share something that someone in the class has done as a good example.
Enough about my lovely art class!
Here are my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner:
Curiosity/ Inquirer: Someone who likes to explore their world, asks questions, tries new things, plays and investigates.
Risk- Taker: Someone who is willing to learn, make mistakes and learn from them.
Persistence: Someone who isn’t afraid to experiment with learning. Someone who tries something, fails, learns from their mistakes, then tries again.
Open Minded: Someone who has an open mindset and is willing to try new things. Being willing to have a go, even if it’s something you’re not feeling confident about.
Reflective: Someone who thinks about their own learning. What’s the point in learning something if we don’t reflect on what it has taught us? Share what you have learnt with others, teach somebody else a new skill, take the time to appreciate your own efforts. Most importantly, use what you have learnt to make connections with new learning.
Before I finish, I want to point out that I am aware that my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner are some of the IB Learner Profiles. I believe in the IB Philosophy and have seen these traits in my students. I like to help my students identify these traits in themselves throughout our year together.
Also, if you haven’t put yourself in the position of a learner in a while, I challenge you to take a class, be a risk taker and enjoy the ride. Lifelong learning makes living worthwhile.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you found it interesting.
Yes I am still here, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. I realise it may appear like I disappeared as I haven’t continued my online presence and my blog has been sadly neglected for the majority of 2017 and 2018. I’ve just been absent for a little while. Not that I’ve been on a long holiday, believe me I could use one of those! No, I’ve simply taken some time off work and being a teacher to become a mum. Yes, I am a mum! The most rewarding and challenging job I’ve ever had. Loving this precious time off with my baby boy, his name is Edison and he is now 15 months old. Here are some photos of him: (cue adorable aaahhh sound)
I thought I’d take this time and rare opportunity to blog whilst he is napping! I have started this blog post four times already and am finally finishing it after many attempts! I figure it’s best to get started and persist with my blog as best as I can. Here we go!
So, what is my purpose for this post? I’d love to share what I know, and seek some feedback, support and a listening ear from other working mum’s (and dad’s), especially those who are teachers. I would also like to ease my way back into my profession by documenting my experience as a teaching mum and share my observations of the women (and men) I know who teach in this career and continually strive for a healthy work and family life balance.
Going Back to Work
I am incredibly fortunate as I had the opportunity to stay at home with my baby for 11 months. I know a lot of parents who have had to return to work a lot earlier for varying reasons, some wanted to, others had to financially either way I just don’t know how they did it. Hats off to them 👏.
I returned to work part time in a teaching asssitant role in Term 3 of this year, so that I could ease back into a work routine and prepare my son, Edison, for not having his mum home all of the time. He has settled into childcare well but still has some separation anxiety issues, pulls on my heartstrings when I leave him every time! This has been a real eye opener, I have much more empathy for those parents who have children who still get upset when they drop them off at school! I get it!
My Top Tips for Teachers
Plan Your Return
Have you thought about the days, times, hours that would ideally suit you as an individual, family member and teacher? Work out what you want to do and have a few ideas up your sleeve as to how you could manage this. Plan and arrange a meeting with your employer to discuss your return to work. Be prepared with questions and suggestions in case your employer cannot support your requests.
Have you got your child care arrangements sorted? Whether it be an Early Learning Centre or the good old grandparents, aunties or uncles, do your homework and figure out who can take care of bubs whilst you’re at work. The trickiest in this situation is if you are planning on doing TRT work, which can be unpredictable. You will need to source care last minute, which is not ideal or have your childcare booked in on certain days and let the schools you plan to relieve in know when you are available.
Prepare Yourself and be Organised
I now understand the true value of time and organisation. I have always been a fairly organised type of person, but becoming a mum has made this trait even more important. Being organised at home is crucial. I suggest meal prepping, cleaning schedules, having a visual/ virtual timetable or calendar for your whole family to know who is doing what on which days/nights and make sure everyone is on the same page. In my family we have my partner (who is also a teacher), his two teenage daughters, one starting university and the other starting Year 12 in 2019, baby Edison and myself. We all have varying timetables and roles to play within the family unit and we are a team. I’m lucky to have their support and somehow we make it work. Also, being organised at work is key, use all of those useful strategies to make sure your lessons, planning and general responsibilities are being covered. Use your release time wisely, answer those tricky emails at appropriate times and try to stay on top of those deadlines by setting timeframes, using reminders and working productively in the time you have at work.
Know Your Limits
You can only do your best on any given day. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will feel guilty for missing things, not spending as much time with your family as you’d like and you will drop the ball from time to time. Make sure you don’t overwork yourself. I know from experience that teaching can be an all consuming career. The day doesn’t start and end at the school bell. We have a multitude of teaching responsibilities outside of school hours, planning, marking, writing individual student support plans, report writing, parent interviews, staff meetings, cocurricular activities to run, school events to attend, professional development courses, it goes on and on. Know what you are willing to do and remember that it is okay to say no and not take on anything extra, especially if you’re feeling stressed. Ask for help when you need it, your year level team members are usually the most supportive people to assist you here, support one another and go to leadership if you feel there’s something you can’t handle or need support with.
Its a Balancing Act
I’m going to learn this one eventually, but finding the right balance is tricky. Becoming a mum has taught me the importance of self-care.
You Time: We all need a little time out once in a while to recoup and feel good. Do what works for you, a little time out reading, exercising, shopping, getting a manicure or pedicure, massage, your favourite hobby, whatever it is that you need, take a little time every so often to give yourself a break.
Family Time: I once read an article about parenting and something struck me, it was about not spending quality time with your children but quantity time. Children don’t remember the one off things and small amounts of time together, they remember you being there and making special memories all the time. I’m not sure how true this is but I thought I’d prefer for us to have memorable family times. Meals together, family outings, walking, exploring, just being together, find the time as children grow up quickly and this time if the most precious.
Work Time: We all have to work, jobs vary, but we all have responsibilities at work and it helps us to provide for our families. Be productive when you are at work, get as much done at work as you can so you don’t take too much work home with you and allow it to cut into your family time. Plan for the events out of school hours and make sure you have someone to support you, babysit or manage the pick ups and drop offs, meals, general running around (for us it’s taking the girls to their part time jobs or soccer training and games, childcare for Edison). Do what works for you.
Finally, good luck to all working mums and dads returning to teaching. Wish me luck on my return to work. I’m excited and nervous but also feeling good about being back in the profession I am so passionate about. I’m also sad to not be spending as much time with my baby boy, who I love more than life itself, but I understand this is how it’s meant to be and he will be learning lots of things at childcare too. If you have any tips for me, I would be very grateful, please post a comment below.
Today is my first solo presentation at a state conference. My presentation is about the use of Seesaw as a digital portfolio in schools.
Here is my workshop rationale:
My workshop is about using an app called Seesaw to assist with creating digital portfolios for students and parents. It is an app that allows communication from school to home but can also be used as on online learning platform within your class. Students can select work they would like to share with their parents via notes, photos, audio files and videos. The app is free and fabulous. Come to my workshop to learn about digital learning using Seesaw. I have been using this app for the last 2 years in Year 2 but am part of an ICT group at my school to assist with the roll out of the app across the whole school. Currently we have been trialling the app with Receptions, Year 2’s and Year 5’s. I have many ideas to share with you about how to use this app across age ranges and ability levels. Parents have absolutely loved this tool to assist them with understanding their child’s learning. It is a fantastic way to track your student’s progress and communicate their personal progress throughout the year. Please come along to learn about this digital tool for digital learning.
Self Assessment using Seesaw: I found this video and thought it would be great to apply this process in all areas of learning. I haven’t used Seesaw in this way but aim to implement this process next term.
How to use the Blogging feature in Seesaw:
Here is a document with resources, Seesaw reviews and links to Seesaw schools in Australia. It’s worth having a read:
Digital Citizenship in the PYP Workshop: Wednesday 20th- Friday 22nd of January 2015 (24 hours PD)
For the last 3 days I have been involved in a workshop called Digital Citizenship in the PYP.
My workshop facilitator was Nathan Pope (@Chinaheadk12), he was great at catering for a diverse group of learners and was very open to sharing resources and his presentation with us. I learnt some new things about Digital Citizenship and many discussions reaffirmed some of my prior knowledge and allowed me to share content with the group.
So what is Digital Citizenship?
This image is a brainstorm chart of my group’s definition of Digital Citizenship.
It says: Being a digital citizen means having an awareness of how to be safe and responsible in the digital community. We also wanted to acknowledge a level of accountability for individuals.
My previous post (2 days ago) was a response to one of our workshop readings, which stimulated great discussion within our group about the use of technology in the classroom. This post is an overview of the course and the highlights for myself as a learner.
Some of my highlights included:
Some old and new Learning Engagement strategies, I particularly loved the Nearpod poll, (http://nearpod.com/) this allowed you to see results being generated from the class live. Nearpod is a tool for delivering content that I would like to trial with my students. You can set it to class mode and run through it as a group or set it to individual mode where students can work through content and tasks at their own pace. Something worth exploring for sure.
Web 1.0, 2.0 & 3.0 and learning what these were and the difference between each. I had never heard of this before but it was something I enjoyed learning about. Here is a brainstorm image from the workshop explaining this. In short Web 1.0 is readable content we can view but not edit, Web 2.0 is writeable content we can collaborate with others on and Web 3.o is executable, artificial intelligence, computers communicating with computers to share content relative to our interests. Pretty amazing stuff. Please also view the video link for a more detailed explanation below.
After learning about Web 2.0 we were asked to choose a piece of technology that we use to collaborate and identify the opportunities and threats about it. I chose Seesaw as I will be using Seesaw with my class again this year as part of our digital portfolios and starting blogs in junior primary. Here is what I came up with:
Google a Day Challenge: http://www.agoogleaday.com/ I’m interested in using this with middle to upper primary students to assist them with searching tips using Google. There are some skills that need to be specifically taught and refining searches is one of them.
Are we disconnecting by being digitally connected? I stumbled across this video whilst searching for something else but thought it was just too good not to share. It’s about the issues we have today about being connected by technology but disconnecting socially in real life. I think everybody should take the next 20 minutes and just watch this Ted Talk by Sherry Turkle, especially those addicted to their phones!
We also explored Digital Footprints, Cyber Safety/ bullying, Grooming and Creative Commons and copyright issues (plagiarism). I have a bit of a background knowledge on these topics already but would like to add the videos I thought were quite good in relation to these topics.
Digital Citizenship Rubric: We discussed the importance of intellectual property and plagiarism. We defined plagiarism:Plagiarism is the use and copy of unacknowledged works. Works can include pieces of art, music, theatre performances, graphic designs, photography, film, published/ written works online, website content, programmes, graphs and digital representations.
We then discussed ways in which we could educate students about plagiarism and how to check if their work was cited properly. This rubric can be used or adapted to suit your students, I think it’s quite good.
Finally Policy Documents: We had the opportunity to look at policy documents from other people’s schools in the group. The big take away point was that staff, students and parents should be involved in creating the policy documents. Too often it is the responsibility of a senior/ leadership staff member to create policy documents and then they share it, ask people to read it and then it’s done. Some people will take the time to read the policies but I dare say that more people will not find the time to engage with them… So, getting people involved in the policy drafting process and then handing the ideas over to leadership or senior staff to finalise is probably a better way to go about it.
Final thought, we are all Digital Citizens, it is our responsibility to be great role models for our students and share our knowledge and understanding about what it means to be a good citizen, on and offline.